Articles tagged with: Editorial


on Thursday, 18 December 2003. Posted in Issue 47 Budget 2004: Preserving a Divided Society?, 2003

December 2003

Dear Reader,

We are happy to present to you with the December 2003 issue of Working Notes. We hope you find it helpful for your reflection and work.

In our opening article, Budget 2004: Small Change for the Poor, Robin Hanan of EAPN (European Anti-Poverty Network) Ireland, analyses the seventh Budget to be introduced by the current Minister for Finance. While welcoming the increases announced in social welfare payments, and the concentration of income tax cuts on the lowest paid, Robin Hanan suggests that, viewed in a broader context, the Budget is not so ‘harmless’. It was preceded by the Estimates, published in November, which introduced welfare cuts that will save a comparatively small amount of money but have a devastating impact on the people affected, and by a year-long run-down of the Community Employment and Jobs Initiative Schemes. The Budget is critically considered in the light of fact that Ireland is the fastest-growing economy in the European Union, and the member country with the second-highest level of income, yet has the lowest spending on social provision and the lowest overall tax rates.He concludes that the Budget showed little indication of a willingness to undertake the type of taxation and spending measures that would be required to seriously address the tasks of eradicating poverty, reducing inequality and developing a level of public services commensurate with our wealth.

In the second article in this issue, Economics and Justice, economist Eithne Fitzgerald argues that the purpose of any economic system ought to be to serve the greater good of society and to ensure that the basic human needs of all its people are met in a way that is both fair and efficient. Ireland over the past decade illustrates some of the virtues and the vices of the market model. Its benefits, in terms of rising incomes and increased employment, are highlighted in public and political discourse. She suggests that even though mainstream economics acknowledges that there are important areas of activity where the market \'does not give the right answer\', public debate on economic policy has become increasingly dominated by those adhering to a blind belief in market forces. She argues there is need for an alternative economic voice - one that places justice and redistribution at the heart of our economic values.

As a seasonal offering, we are privileged to have insightful Perspectives on Christmas from two people who have come to reside in Ireland from afar, Zhiyan Sharif, who is from Kurdistan in Iraq and Egide Dhala who is from the Congo. Finally, Cathy Molloy introduces a Christmas Reflection from an essay by Karl Rahner SJ.

If you enjoy what you read in these pages and find it useful we invite you to consider making a voluntary subscription to Working Notes. We suggest a sum of €15.00 per year. If you wish to contribute more to our work, we would be most appreciative.

We thank you for your continued support and wish all our readers a very happy Christmas.



Eugene Quinn
Director, Centre for Faith and Justice




on Saturday, 03 July 2004. Posted in Issue 48 The Constitution: Private Property and the Common Good, 2004

June 2004

Dear Reader,

In this issue of Working Notes we examine the report on Private Property of the All- Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution Property, published in April 2004. The Report followed a request from the Taoiseach in February 2000 to “consider the present constitutional provisions in respect of property rights and specifically the necessity for up-dating those provisions which pertain to planning controls and infrastructural development”.

In the light of the recent constitutional amendment on citizenship it is interesting to look at the process by which the constitutional provisions on Private Property were reviewed. Following wide consultation, in which the Committee received 140 written submissions from individuals, groups and organizations and subsequently held oral hearings, a comprehensive 133 page report and a further 300 pages in appendices were compiled. The Report includes a detailed review of the constitutional provisions on private property and existing case law, the property market and the planning system, which enabled well-founded conclusions and clear recommendations to be made.

In contrast there was no public consultation prior to proposing the recent change to the Constitution in respect of the right to citizenship. It was not deemed necessary that the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution should consider the issue. Consequently, the debate was held in the absence of a thorough analysis. The result was that much information was at the level of anecdote and general impression; the failure of the Government to produce comprehensive research findings hindered a full and balanced assessment of the issues and the consideration of a range of possible policy responses.

The Constitution represents a privileged source and statement of values in Ireland. I believe that, in bypassing established procedures that ensure full public consultation and thorough analysis of issues prior to constitutional change, the Government did a disservice to all people who reside on this island.

Eugene Quinn
Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice

Working Notes Issue 45 Editorial

on Thursday, 10 April 2003. Posted in Issue 45 Social Partnership: Is it a Just Structure?, 2003

April 2003

Ireland for the first period in its history is experiencing substantial immigration. Eugene Quinn in his article \'Integration: What\'s done? A lot more to do\' assesses the policy response to date. He questions whether there is a disjuncture between the policy rhetoric and the practice. Two areas of particular concern are the scope of integration policy, it currently excludes the broader migrant population, and the negative consequences for integration of dispersal and direct provision policies.

Peter McVerry SJ examines how the homeless have fared during the Celtic Tiger years in \'A rising tide...but no boats to lift". Against a backdrop of a chronic shortage of accommodation he examines the options now open to the homeless. He questions why, after five years of economic prosperity, the problem ofhomelessness has become so critical.

The issue of Clerical Sex Abuse and the response of the Catholic Church is considered in an article by Brian Lennon SJ entitled \'The Contradiction of Justice\'. As an institution that advocates justice for the weakest and most vulnerable in society he argues that the same standards of justice must apply within the Catholic Church.

Edmond Grace SJ in his article on \'Politics, corruption and Europe\' reflects on the growing alienation of ordinary citizens from politics and politicians, and the danger this poses to the democratic process. He points out that democratic politics is not just about winning elections but about including all the people in the process of government. Electoral politics is geared towards majority rule, which, if unchecked, becomes unresponsive to the rights of minorities. A more inclusive style of democratic politics is needed and the European political arena, which badly needs to demonstrate its own democratic legitimacy, may provide a way forward.

Finally, if you enjoy what you read between these pages and find it useful we invite you to consider making a voluntary subscription to Working Notes. We suggest a sum of C 15.00 per year. This covers the cost of producing Working Notes. If you wish to contribute more to our work here we would be most appreciative.

We thank you for your continued support throughout this year.

Eugene Quinn Director, Centre for Faith and Justice

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We tend to think that law defines what crime is. This makes sense because contemporary legal codes are concerned with marking out the territory where conduct is permissible by specifying the conduct that is outlawed. Yet the earliest bodies of law – consider for example, the Torah or Hammurabi’s Code – are at least as committed to articulating the good as proscribing the bad... Read full editorial

Working Notes is a journal published by the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. The journal focuses on social, economic and theological analysis of Irish society. It has been produced since 1987.